Senegal is a country on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. Each year, there are many celebrations in the country that people attend from both within and outside the country. Below are some of the festivals celebrated in Senegal that you should know about.
- St Louis Jazz Festival – This music festival is undoubtedly the best known in Senegal and one of the most popular in all of Africa. Each year, in May or June the event hosts music acts from around the world for a week full of concerts, talks, and workshops. While the festival originally started with only jazz artists, it has expanded to include blues and soul as well.
- Dak’Art Biennale – is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Dakar, Senegal. Dak’Art’s focus has been on Contemporary African Art since 1996. It runs for an entire month and usually hosts around 200 exhibitions in a large industrial area of Dakar. Visitors can find additional artwork on display in the surrounding art galleries and hotels. The next event will be hosted in 2022.
- Exhibition and Festival Gorée Island – Senegal’s Goree Island celebrates African art and culture in a festival meant to bring members of the African diaspora closer together. In the 18th century, Goree Island was one of several West African ports from which goods and slaves were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. Nearly 300 years later, the island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, it is home to more than 1,000 people and has hosted guests from around the world, including Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela.
- Le Fanal – For a Carnaval-like celebration in Africa, it doesn’t get much better than Le Fanal (the lantern) in Saint Louis. This colorful festival goes all the way back to the 18th century and is based on a ritual that some of the rich families used to participate in. During the event, people get dressed up in elaborate costumes and decorate gigantic lanterns that float down the colonial streets of the city.
- Abéné Festival – This is one of the longest festivals in Senegal and includes 10 days of drumming in the Casamance region. During the event, you can see djembe and percussion players playing rhythmic tunes while people dance around. There are also traditional wrestling matches nightly. It starts at the end of December and runs all the way through the New Year.
Senegal is home to more other festivals, initiation ceremonies, and exhibitions all along the year:
- Dakar Big Carnaval in November
- Dakar Music Festival in November
- Festival of Foundiougne in February
- The Serrere’s rites and initiations (Ndoutt) from April to June
- The festival of the king in Oussouye (Humbel) in October
- The Kankourang exit festival in Mbour-Saly – and Casamance in September
- Rites and initiation ceremonies at the South East, in Bassarie and Bedik countries from April to May